The long pondered question of subsidence in the Bullings Heath area, and the age of the black Cock bridge became a little clearer last week. Top reader and local history ferret [Howmuch?] found this wonderful snippet in the archives of the long gone newspaper, ‘The Brownhills Reporter’.
There have been many references found in the local press relating to the raising of the approaches of this bridge, and the question of just how much it sank has been controversial. My overall feeling that the sinkage can’t have been more than two to three feet or so, and that occurred before the construction of the canal cottages in Hall Lane seems to be about right. I seem a bit off with the date, though as I suspected 1890 to 1910.
The report describes the proposed replacement of the original Black Cock brick arched bridge with a new girder construction, i.e. the current bridge. I have a feeling the same abutments and retainers were re-employed, which would explain some of the odd features of the brickwork. The killer figures in this are that the bridge is only 3½ inches higher – not the huge subsidence figure of folklore, but significant – and the 2 foot 5 inch wider – the bridge is narrow now. As I assume this is the original bridge being replaced, it can’t have been much more that a footbridge in reality. The needs of the wider economic community would have been pushing for it’s replacement anyway.
The question of the approaches is also interesting. A back of the envelope sketch suggests that a modest rise in height is enough to make the approaches horridly and untenable steep. They must have been awful for cart traffic, and should think they knackered many a horse.
It will be interesting to see if anything else surfaces on this topic. Oh, for a photo of the bridge in those days, but they were such common structures that nobody would waste a plate. Anyone having further information, please don’t hesitate to comment or mail me at BrownhillsBob at Googlemail dot com. Cheers.